One Month of Meal Planning (Gluten-Free and Vegetarian)

When I ran my January meal planning challenge, it was as much for me as for everyone else. I loved seeing what everyone else was making, what their goals were, and what changes they saw during the month.

At our house, our goal was to save time, energy, and money - plus try to use up some languishing pantry items stuffed in the mysterious depths of the cupboards or freezer. And we did! Sure there were a few days that we had to switch around due to life happening, but it was a relief to avoid the last minute decision making of what to make for dinner.

Overwhelmed at the prospect? I have an online meal planning workshop coming up. Or for more tips, check out my meal planning Pinterest board!

I only plan 4 dinners each week since we usually have enough for leftovers at least once, plus we have dinner at a friend's house most Thursdays. My husband works weekends and we often have activities, so I keep those nights open.

We also get a CSA (community supported agriculture) box of local veggies each Thursday at the farmers market, so we incorporate those as much as possible. We eat a little seafood at home, otherwise I'm vegetarian, and I'm currently not eating gluten, either.

Week 1

Polenta with Peppers and Mushrooms
Broccoli Cheddar Soup
Spinach and Artichoke Quinoa Casserole
Homemade Gluten-Free Pizza

Week 2

Chickpea and Mushroom Polenta (we didn't love this one)
Lentil and Hominy Chili
Gluten-Free Crispy Orange Cauliflower
BBQ Tempeh Tacos with Shredded Cabbage

Week 3

Black Bean Enchiladas
Wild Rice Soup
Cold Vietnamese Noodle Bowls
Grilled Veggies

Week 4

Homemade Gluten-Free Pizza
Black Bean Tacos
Vegetarian Chili with Gluten-Free Cornbread
Stir Fry

What are some of your go-to meals?

If your best meal planning intentions end up in a mess of recipes and guilty takeout, you're not alone. Join me from home (wear your PJs, I won't judge) and we'll cover strategies to finally get you started with my online meal planning workshop.

January Meal Planning Mama Challenge!

I took a little informal survey last month about what moms were struggling with, and so many of them listed meal prep and chores as a painful obstacle to happiness and fulfillment.

Healthy dinner prep. A familiar sight, or a relic of the past?

Add to that the resentment of time spent shopping, cooking, and cleaning up afterward, plus the guilt after relying on not-so-healthy meals because you're out of time and brain cells, and eating isn't exactly enjoyable.

That leads straight to the snack ledge at Trader Joe's where food intentions go to get fat and die. Cue guilt spiral.

Sound familiar?

I've totally been there, and I'm a freaking health coach here. My husband worked a zillion hours a week (Ok, fine, 75 plus commute) and I was a giant sleep-deprived ball of stress and carb cravings.

Then his schedule changed to be less intense and more regular (clouds part, angels sing), and we did something drastic: we started meal planning. This is particularly ironic since I create customized meal plans for clients that take hours of research. But I was winging it for us.

FAIL.

Now as soon as the kiddo goes to bed on Sunday night, we take a whopping 10 minutes to sit down and make a meal plan for the week. Then we do a quick kitchen inventory to add to the grocery list as needed. I slot each meal on our shared Google calendar, and we're set. So easy it's almost embarrassing that it took this long.

Want to give it a try? You should!

Starting Monday, January 4th, I'll post on Instagram using the hashtag #mealplanningmama with our plan for the week. Comment with your own, or post using the hashtag so we can find it. We all get accountability, plus more ideas for our own plans. Win-win!

No one is going to put you in meal planning jail if you make mistakes, mess up, or fall off the wagon.

I'll post my tips and resources along with my plans, too, so share what works for you and your family. We're in this together.

CLICK HERE to download a meal planning outline with grocery list that I've used for many clients to get you started.

Here's to a happy healthy 2016!

Want to stay in the loop?

Let's be honest - you'll forget to check back. Because mom brain is real.

The Sh*tty Side of Pregnancy (Literally)

On the other end...

My last post covers what you may be putting into your body, but there's also the topic of what comes out. Or doesn't.

Yep, I mean constipation, one of the most annoying side effects of pregnancy that hits you like a brick. A brick that won't move. Right in your colon.

Hit back with a full frontal (middle?) assault of tons of water and fiber. If you're having trouble drinking enough water, try adding fruit (citrus slices, strawberries), cucumber slices, or mint for a hint of flavor. Your goal should be around half your body weight in ounces of water per day (if you weigh 130 pounds, aim for 65 ounces of water and see how you feel).

Drinking a large glass of water first thing in the morning can help ward off nausea and headaches, and it help get things moving in your GI tract as well. If you're up to it, physical activity also stimulates digestion, so a walk or other exercise is not only good for you, but good for your gut.

green smoothie ingredients

"Fiber" doesn't sound sexy, so think in terms of:

  • eating whole grains instead of refined ones
  • incorporating nuts and seeds
  • snacking on fresh and dried fruit
  • and adding dark leafy greens to your diet (try a smoothie, or sauteed with eggs)

It's not as hard as it sounds. Try brown rice or whole wheat pasta instead of white. Eat some trail mix. Have fruit available at all time. Opt for a side salad instead of fries when you eat out.

Have you ever eaten too many blueberries or prunes in one sitting? No such thing when you're baking a baby. And those micronutrients in leafy greens include the folate you need to help in the earliest days of your pregnancy.

What about supplements?

Normally I'm a whole food, plant-based kind of girl, but sometimes you need a little oomph. I pretty much ate cereal and yogurt my first trimester. Nothing with flavor sounded good and I was too tired to cook.

Some groups suggest eating tons of organ meats and a zillion fermented things. No thanks, guys. I barely have an appetite anyway, and my own organ meats are having a hard time. But if you need a little energy boost and are worried, these can help.

(This is not medical advice and should not be construed as such. This is what I have personally taken, however, and have recommended them to clients and friends. Amazon links are affiliate links, so if you purchase the items I suggested I get a few cents from it.)

Some supplements I actually do recommend

  • Floradix. This liquid iron supplement is non-constipating. It tastes like juice stirred with a rusty nail, but I felt less fatigued after only 2-3 days of taking it.
  • Your prenatals. A vitamin supplement doesn't cancel out a bad diet, but it can help smooth over rough patches. Also, your body is drawing on your nutrient stores to build your placenta and baby, so you need to replenish them for yourself!
  • Magnesium. There is a range of opinion on rates of magnesium deficiency, but taking a little too much isn't dangerous, it just can give you diarrhea. If that happens, back off! Magnesium is the active ingredient in milk of magnesia, a laxative. As a side bonus, magnesium can help those restless legs and cramps at night, too. Several friends swear by this calcium-magnesium combo (just don't take it with your iron supplement since calcium can inhibit absorption).
  • Vitamin D3. 95% of American adults are deficient in vitamin D. Most of us aren't out in the sun long enough with enough skin exposed to get enough naturally, and while foods are fortified with it, we're still not getting enough. Vitamin D helps with the absorption of other nutrients as well as sleep. (It's also important when you're breastfeeding.) I recommend at least 5000iu. You'd have to take about 40 bottles at once to overdose, and it doesn't store in your system, so you can't take too much without trying.

Is it nap time yet? I thought so.

Happy pooping!